Susan Granger’s review of “The Three Musketeers” (Summit Entertainment)
Alexander Dumas would scarcely recognize this latest incarnation of his swashbuckling tale – what with its airborne CGI galleons and armed Milady who secures rappelling apparatus within her corset.
The prologue begins in 17th century Venice, where sardonic Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), good-humored Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and astute Aramis (Luke Evans) team up with intrepid Milady DeWinter (Milla Jovovich) to steal blueprints for a ‘war machine’ from Leonardo DaVinci’s Vault. But they’re betrayed by Milady, who delivers the plans for the dirigible/sea-faring galleon to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) and then allies herself with scheming Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz).
A year later, the cocky, young son of a Musketeer, D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman), is traveling to Paris to become one of the elite soldiers sworn to protect France’s foppish, teenage King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox). En route, eye-patch’d Capt. Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), the leader of Richelieu’s Guards, mocks his horse, Buttercup, earning D’Artagnan’s eternal enmity – after which D’Artagnan joins up with disillusioned Athos, Porthos and Aramis – who feel they’re obsolete and in search of a ‘cause’ – and he becomes smitten with lovely Constance (Gabriella Wilde), lady-in-waiting to the Queen ((Juno Temple). As the plot thickens, there’s in an unlikely escapade in which Milady steals the Queen’s diamond-studded necklace as part of Richelieu’s diabolical plan to provoke war between England and France.
Written by Alex Litvak (“Predators”) and Andrew Davies (TV’s “Pride and Prejudice,” “Little Dorrit”) and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, it’s dazzling in its opulent, expensive, 3-D extravagance but the crass concept lacks substance, the vapid characters are never individualized, and the dialogue is so stilted that the Three Musketeers seem transformed into The Three Stooges. Even the Hong Kong-inspired but badly edited swordfights lack tension and suspense. Perhaps one should know that actress Milla Jovovich is married to the director, and they’ve made millions from their “Resident Evil” franchise.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Three Musketeers” is a hammy, campy 5, concluding with the threat of a sequel as a British armada sailed toward France.